- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2003

Pliny the Elder, Roman naturalist and philosopher, wrote in his multivolume “Natural History”: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi,” or for those who have forgotten their high-school Latin: “There is always something new out of Africa.”

What could be more new than Africa south of the Sahara, supported by the United Nations, pleading with Europe and America for a return of Western soldiers to bring peace to Liberia? Pleading, if you please, for American troops to oust Liberia’s President Charles Taylor, since it was American slaves who had been freed and sent to form their own country in 1847.

How strange that Europe’s one-time African colonies have made such a request even if it could mean many years of occupation of Liberia by once-hated Western armies. From African emancipation to African re-occupation? Zimbabwe was once a British colony. So isn’t it strange that Prime Minister Tony Blair has not been asked for British troops to overthrow Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship, one which has destroyed the country’s economy, its political structure, and what little freedom its 11 million inhabitants enjoyed? Taylor, yes, Mugabe, no? Why?

The history of post-colonial Africa is disaster after disaster. No former European colony came on the world scene with so much good will as did Ghana in 1960, especially in the United States. Kwame Nkrumah, the Osagyefo, the “Liberator,” took over Ghana from the British with a half-billion dollars in the bank, earnings from the cocoa trade. In a few months, this stash was frittered away on Mercedes-Benzes for Nkrumah’s mistresses and other profligate expenditures. A strike of unionized Ghanaian dock workers was broken up and participants shot and killed.

Then came attacks on the most productive farmers in Ghana, the Ashanti, and then a takeover of Ghana foreign policy by the Soviet ambassador who easily persuaded the Osagyefo that the enemy was Western imperialism. The East German secret police were invited to train Nkrumah’s goons and Ghanaians who objected to the dictatorship were jailed. I talked to former Ghanaian prisoners and returning exiles in Accra, the Ghana capital, after Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966. Forgotten is the Nkrumah-ordered assassination of his neighbor, President Sylvanus Olympio of Togo, in an unsuccessful imperialist grab. None of this is remembered on the Nkrumah Web site, which is solemnly peddling Nkrumah’s “Pan-Africanism.”

Nkrumah was only one of the African strongmen so beloved of American and European Marxists, they who saw a blissful Soviet Africa emerging by the rule of dictators like Nkrumah, Sekou Toure of Guinea and soft dictators like Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and his version of Marxism, called “ujamaa” which ruined the country’s peasantry.

By all means condemn a colonial power like Belgium and how it turned the Congo into a “heart of darkness” but it has been some time — 43 years — since Belgium left that huge, mineral-rich territory and it’s still a basket case with millions of corpses in the baskets and counting. And there’s Rwanda and Burundi and Somalia and the mad armies in Uganda who specialize in kidnapping school girls.

So what am I yakking about? No American troops in Liberia or any other part of Africa. Not one. We’ve done our share, more than our share in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we’re still not finished in those two countries and we won’t be for years to come. Let Europe — Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, all one-time colonial powers — send in their troops. Enough already.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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